How to Pitch a Guest Post (And Get the Most Out of It)

I get pitched a lot of guest posts. And most of them, are absolutely terrible.

As I previously mentioned, one of my goals for this year is to do more guest posts myself. As I was preparing my list of people I wanted to approach, and how I planned to go about doing it, there was something just gnawing at the back of my mind.

To be honest, I’m surprised at how bad most pitches are. It seems like a very simple concept, yet most people don’t seem to have grasped it.

I’ve sent thousands of people to Ramit’s article about guest posting, yet they still don’t pay attention to it.

For that reason, I wanted to write a post that identifies what to do, and what not to do when pitching a guest post at Location 180 (or other blogs). From there, I want to take it a step further and look at how to make the most of your post, once you do land a spot on a big blog.

Two Terrible Guest Post Pitches

First off I want to take a look at two different types of pitches that I receive daily. On the surface one may seem worse than the other, but let me assure you, both are equally as bad.

1) The Spam Pitch

Over half of the posts I receive look exactly like this one I got this morning:

Hi,

My name is Scarlet I would like to share a high quality content on your website.Let me know if you can offer me the opportunity and what will be the criteria for it

Awaiting your response.

Thanks, Scarlet

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Scarlet, is a fantastic writer and would have all sorts of fantastic thoughts to provide the Location 180 community – but, no….

If you have a blog of any size you’ve undoubtedly seen these spammy types of guest post pitches.  It’s people like this who have pushed the industry so far as for Matt Cutt’s to say Guest Posting is Dead.

While I disagree with him (a topic for another post), it’s clear that a lot of spammers are trying to game the system.

But this is to be expected. I’ve always gotten emails like, and always will. You know, the one that isn’t personalized, has a generic question, and uses a fake name.

*Delete.*

That’s all that needs to happen there.

However most of you will never send an email as atrocious as this – or at least you better not.

#2) The ‘Let Me Do You a Favor’ Pitch

That said, there is a chance you’ll send an email that looks like this one which I got last week:

Hey Sean,

I’ve been reading Location 180 for the last couple years, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your articles. I’ve enjoyed them so much that I really want to give back to the Location 180 community. I was thinking I could write a guest post about how to quit your job and build a business. What do you say? Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re helping tons of people!

-Eric

Now on the surface, the other one might seem worse, as this was at least personalized. But in my mind, this is a terrrrrible pitch.

Why? Let’s dissect.

  1. “I want to give back to the L180 community.” - People say this ALL. THE. TIME. in their pitches. No, more often than not, you don’t want to give back, you want to get access to my audience to grow your own business. Don’t insult me by saying that the only thing you want out of this is to “give back.”
  2. I want to write “How to quit your job and build a business.” If that isn’t the most generic pitch of all time, I don’t know what is. Great! You can read the tagline for the site. There was nothing personal about this, and you didn’t even make an attempt to get creative with a new idea.
  3. Personal, but not personal. You say you’ve read the articles. Which ones? How have they had an impact on you? Be specific so that I know you’re not full of shit.
  4. Didn’t make any attempt to build rapport. This particular person had never emailed me before, never left and comment, and never bought a product of mine. Now I totally get that many (most) blog readers do it from the sidelines, but to come out and ask like this, without even attempting to build rapport with me is a little frustrating.

Now I don’t mean to sound like a total asshole, because I appreciate emails from readers more than just about anything else in my business.

I love building the relationships and getting to know you and your stories.

But this particular email all seemed fake to me. If I’d seen even a single comment or tweet from you over the last few years, I might believe you, but this one seems like you were pretty much only out for your own gain.

So now that we’ve seen two examples of what not to do with a guest post, let’s look at how to craft a pitch so beautiful and personal that blogs will be throwing themselves at you for your services.

Ok, well maybe not throwing themselves at you. But you’ll at least increase your success rate!

Key Elements of a Successful Guest Post Pitch

The More Rapport the Better

The chances are, you won’t personally know every single person that you pitch. But, the more rapport you can build in the process, the better.

In the week or two leading up to your pitch, here are a couple things you should do:

  • Comment on their blog
  • Engage them on twitter
  • Potentially start an email conversation

Tom Ewer started emailing me maybe a year ago. He never asked for anything, just built rapport and talked about shared interests. When he finally asked to do a guest post, I was more than happy to host him because I knew he’d provide value, and there was a genuine relationship.

You might not have a year to wait, but by commenting on their blog and social media, you’re getting them familiar with who you are. If an email comes in and they see your name, there’s a good chance they’ll recognize it – so when you tell them you’re a big fan, they’ll actually believe you.

Whenever Possible, Be Their Best Case Study

Earlier this week, I posted something written by Annelise Carter. She joined Location Rebel in 2011, and since has left her job, built a successful business, and is one of the best “mentors” in our community.

She followed the blueprints in my course, was active in the community, and had a ton of success. Why WOULDN’T I want to feature her on the blog?

If you have a favorite blogger you want to write for, one of the easiest things you can do is put into action what they tell you to do – and then tell them about it!

You’re making them look good, providing a useful how to for their audience, and positioning yourself as an expert – it’s a win/win/win.

Give Them Options, and Never Write the Post First

The best pitches I get usually give me an option to choose what I think is going to be the best fit for my site. I know better than anyone what posts I’ve written in the past, and which ones have done the best.

So if you only give me one idea, and I know it’s something that won’t work well, I’ll probably just say “sorry I don’t think that’s a good fit” and puts you in the tough spot of trying to pitch me again.

That said, if you have 3 killer headline ideas, you can share the three each with a one sentence description, and thus make it much easier for me to say yes to one of those ideas.

Guest Post Template

Here’s an example of what a really good guest pitch might look like. You’ll obviously need to tweak it based on the specific blog and your relationship with them, but just try and keep some of these concepts in mind during the pitch.

Hi ____,

My name is ______ and I’ve been reading Location 180 for the last two years. I first got hooked by reading your post “The 13 Approaches to Quitting Your Job” back in 2012. I used your “globetrotter” method to not only leave my job, but remain on great terms with everyone at the company in the process – so thank you for that!

I’ve got a relatively new site that focuses specifically on ________, and I’m trying to get my name out there as best I can. I had a couple ideas for guest posts that I thought might be a really good fit for Location 180. Totally cool if not, but let me know if you think any of these might be a valuable to your audience:

  • How I Quit My Job in 31 Days (And Retained My Boss As a Freelance Client) – This is about how within 31 days of reading your post I left my job, and am still able to work with my old boss on a freelance basis (that actually pays more money!).
  • 7 Ways I Became a Productivity Machine After I Became A Solopreneur – For the first 2 months of working on my own, I was a mess, and got very little done. Then I made these 7 changes and now not only am I more productive, but my business has doubled.
  • How My Extremely Tiny Niche Makes Me Big Income (And How to Find Your Niche) – I found a niche so small that most people would never think of building a business around it – yet it’s worked really well for me. I’ve also built a process for finding these niches I’ve taught to 3 other people who are experiencing similar success.

Thanks for all that you do, and even if none of these posts are appealing I hope we can stay in touch, as I owe a big part of where I am to your blog posts and guidance.

All the best,

______

If someone sent me this email, even if I’d never talked to them before, there’s a good chance I’d have them write the article. It would show they respected my time and advice, understand the blog audience, and aren’t trying to hide the fact they want to post to grow their own thing (everyone does).

What to Do Once You Land the Guest Post

Ok, so now you’ve got your pitch honed and you’re ready to go out on a guest posting binge. Well how do you actually make sure that you’re leveraging the opportunity to it’s full potential? The worst thing you could do is prime yourself to receive a bunch of new traffic, and then not have any way of capturing the it!

Let’s look at a few strategies for how to make sure your post is most effective for you and the person your writing for.

Mention the Blog Author and Link Back to Their Posts

Once you write the post, there’s also one big thing you can do to make sure the post carries favor with the blog owner.

Mention them in the post.

The guest posts that I’m the most happy with recognize that Location 180 has a lot of valuable content. So when they refer to me by name in the post, and even better, link back to a few of my old blog posts that might be relevant, it shows respect and that they’ve done their research.

I’m much more likely to work with a person who does this to make sure the post goes up, then someone who doesn’t say anything about myself or the site. In this regard, a little ego stroking goes a long way (just being honest here!).

Link out to all kinds of relevant resources, not just your own stuff

With guest posts, I want people that can come in and give my readers a step by step guide for how to do something unique. John Lee Dumas wrote specifics on how he grew his podcast to over 400k downloads a month. Kevin Cole wrote about how we went from zero to $3k doing SEO writing.

These were very detailed.

However, I’m a realist. I know that you can’t write everything there is to know on a topic in a single blog post. However you can position that post as the definitive resource on that topic by linking out to other relevant articles.

I love seeing a step by step guide that tells you what to do, and then for each step there are 3 links to other sites that walk you through exactly how to do it. So if you know of the perfect resource for this, that’s on a competing blog, don’t be afraid to share it.

…But still link to your own stuff as well

When you write for me, I want to see you get as much value out of it as possible. So if you have blog posts that go more in depth on something you mention, totally share it! For me, there’s no such thing as too many links in a how to article, as long as they are to high quality, relevant resources.

So if your site has high quality, relevant resources, then link away!

Note: Other bloggers may have issues with this, so review their previous guest posts before assuming you should include 30 links in your post. But I think these are the most useful to the reader.

Create a Custom Offer for Their Audience

This is huge and an incredible win/win opportunity.

In your bio at the end (or beginning) of the post, instead of just linking back to your homepage, create a special landing page just for readers of their site – and give them something.

Maybe it’s an ebook you used to charge for. Perhaps it’s a checklist you wrote just for them – or even a whole ebook. Whatever it is make it relevant to your article and something of value.

They can get it simply by signing up for your email list.

Every time I’ve done this strategy I’ve gotten at least a couple hundred new subscribers, and in some cases I’ve gotten over a thousand in 24 hours. For those interested, I share all the details of exactly how that one went down inside Location Rebel :)

That said, it’s a very simple concept.

  1. Guest Post
  2. Link back to special landing page
  3. Link to free gift with email signup

Moving Forward With Your Guest Posts

I personally have found guest posting to be the absolute best way of growing a blog or business. You’re getting high quality links, building relationships, and generating traffic to your site – all in one fell swoop!

Just remember to keep one important thing in mind as you begin pitching posts: Both the author your pitching and their readers are all real people. 

It’s easy to get lost behind a computer screen and forget this. Everything you pitch or write will be read by real people, just like you and me! So treat them all as such. Don’t try and get away with spammy mass pitches. Don’t write a half ass guest post that doesn’t provide any value to the people reading it. Do be genuine and thoughtful.

If you do this, amazing things will happen.

With that said, I’m always looking for high quality guest posts to feature on the site.  You may have noticed, there have been more on here lately than usual.

Why?

Because there are so many people in this community that we can all learn from. I’ve been writing about my transition and business for nearly 5 years(!). There are a lot of others who have really interesting insights for how they’ve grown their business over the past year. Everyone has a different approach, and I want to highlight as many of those as possible.

So I’ve been really pleased to see so many people benefitting from the guest posts that have gone up.

Have a great idea you want to share with us? Let me know!

Karen Martínez P. February 13, 2014 at 10:32 am

Hi Sean, perfect timing!

I have an article scheduled for this week about my blog goals and I mention guest posts. I’ve been wanting to contact you about this and it seems like now is the time!

I’m going to use this when sending my pitch :)

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Jen February 13, 2014 at 11:26 am

Hey Sean – GREAT article. One thing I’m focusing on is my site (adding opt-in options) so I can start guest posting more often. I’ve been asked to do it in the past but had no way to capture any leads. I wanted to wait until I had a better way to remain connected.

This is perfect information – thank you so much!

Hugs xoxo
Jen

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monique February 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I came across that landing page idea a few years ago. I was reading a guest post, decided to click on the link in the author’s bio and was taken to a landing page. It was so intriguing to me – and brilliant!

For all I remember, I may have been YOUR blog that it brought me to.

I’ve been thinking about that landing page for years now.

I suppose the next step is to do something similar!

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Leandro February 14, 2014 at 7:21 am

Great Post Sean! You’ve given me a lot to think about here when it comes to launching myself. I appreciate the honest and to the point advice here. Those pitches were rather surprising but then again people will try anything.

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Naimath February 14, 2014 at 8:42 am

Awesome insights Sean! I must admit, I have made the mistake of emailing like the first person and was looking for something like this to help me. Anyway, this is the first time I visited Location180, and I’m glad to have found a resource like this. I’m quite sure I’m going to visit often. Happy to know you and connect with you on Twitter!

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Scott Asai February 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Really good, practical advice Sean. It’s one thing to ask, but it’s also how to ask. I like the focus on building rapport. It’s s trust thing and the more you do to build it, the better your chances when it comes time for the ask.

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Rasmus February 16, 2014 at 5:47 am

Excellent post Sean, as someone who would like to do more guest posting here in 2014 I could probably have fallen into the trap of going directly to the pictch.

But I’ll make sure to use your template when I’m pitching you (and others of course) ;) .

I’ve used the “custom offer” (actually a free gift) once in the past. I recorded three videos for a magazine post I did (digital iPad magazine) that elobared even more on the topic of the post.

It was a lot of work for just one article but since there was a maximum on the number of words I could write in the article, it was a good way to be able to go a little deeper in the videos (and of course also had a reason for people to come to my website).

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Chas February 16, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Thank you for the tips, Sean. I have never approached anyone about doing a guest blog, and frankly, I would feel uneasy about doing so, until I have created my own blog, or published an article somewhere, where they could see an example of my work. So, I must work on that first step, before venturing further. I will keep this bookmarked for future reference, however. Thanks again.

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monique February 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Hi Chas, I only allow unique content posted on my site, for the most part.
For example, I have a review/giveaway site. Oftentimes I’ll post blurbs about a book (for example) which is the same blurb that’s on the author’s, publisher’s, and the book stores sites (like amazon). I’m not concerned about those, honestly. They are a small portion of the post I’m writing.

But I don’t want an entire post that’s already someplace it. While it won’t really hurt me (duplicate content isn’t as bad as people think), it won’t HELP me at all – unless it was both published AND picked up by the search engines on my site FIRST.

The other part is that – why am I giving them space on my property to publish something that’s been published elsewhere? There’s just no point for me and my audience.

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Elly Klein February 16, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Great post, Sean!

Just one question: What’s the protocol around publishing something on your own site as well?

For instance, would you NOT want a guest post that was already published on their site (even if they had a very small audience)? If so, would it be okay for them to publish it on their site at a later date? Or would you only want a guest post that was exclusive to your site?

I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

Keep up the great work!

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Paul Back February 16, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Hey Sean

This is a fantastic post I completely agree doing your homework and going that extra mile is absolutely necessary when attempting a guest post.

After all you gain a chance to put your article in front of someone’s audience, they worked hard to gain their trust and its your responsibility as a guest poster to add to that.

I am working on a guest post right now and I am on to my 3rd re write – that’s almost 10,000 words because I don’t feel that the final product is worthy of the blog just yet.

Guest posting isn’t just an exercise in link building, like you said its about providing real value to real people.

I really liked your tips and your sample email is fantastic, I will make sure to use something similar in my next pitch.

Paul Back

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Joseph Dabon February 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Why didn’t I get to know Location 180 two years ago?

I just finished writing an e-book, titled Chase Your Dreams. My problem now is to how to get it published. I am struggling with Lulu.com’s formatting guide and it might take me a lot longer to digest it than to write my book.

Now I decided to put it in the backburner for the moment, so I can digest the things you are feeding me. I find your inputs relevant to further my desire to write more books.

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George Mason February 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Great advice Sean, especially the landing page idea!
The let me do you a favor kind of pitch is the absolute worst and incredibly cheesy as well, not to mention it’s painfully fake.
I’ve never really spent that much time thinking about guest posts, but you made some great points in this article that even explained some very basic and somewhat obvious things regarding guest posting to me.
Thank you for sharing this, I’m looking forward to your next article, or the next guest post on Location 180. :)

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Sharyn February 18, 2014 at 3:32 am

Just getting into Location Rebel (love to think I will eventually be able to trully sustain our vagabond lifestylethrough blogging) and loving each and every bit of information coming into out inbox. I’m soaking up so much information, getting greatmideas and writing a very long list of things to do, while trying to stay upright on my bicycle. We are getting close to the end of our latest journey, cycling across Australia. So …as soon as wee finish in about 2 weeks (and I have regular, decent internet access! !) I’m definitely going to start putting your advice into practice..I feel like we have so much to offer, we just need to improve our delivery…and hopefully start to make some $.

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Sharyn February 18, 2014 at 3:34 am

Oopsmsorry mate…location180..Haven’t actually joined location rebel YET!

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Andrew February 23, 2014 at 4:25 am

Really solid advice Sean! I’ll add it to my BuzzFeed template and give it a try. Thanks

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David February 25, 2014 at 5:28 am

haha, that “Spam Pitch” is really good example… I am getting them again and again :)

Btw. didn’t visit your blog for one year or so… The articles got much, much better, less hot air, more great advices!

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Lizanne February 27, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Wow! Amazing article! I have had my blog for over 2 years mostly as a hobby, but am looking to increase my followers and venture into the business side of blogging. I know the tips you have provided in this article will go a long way as I live out my goals for 2014! Thanks Sean!

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Rio Yee March 9, 2014 at 4:15 am

Sean, totally agree with what you said. The attempt to gain more traffic to the site is so obvious for the people who approached you with the terrible guest post pitches mentioned above.

I know several bloggers such as Danny and Pamela they don’t approached to write guest post without building rapport with the webmaster before. Danny and Pamela are Jon Morrow’s courses student, so they have personally knew Jon before they wrote him guest posts.

I think many people just make wrong step like you have mentioned, they don’t build rapport with the blogger that they want to write guest post for. Instead of trying to approach someone you don’t know, it’s better to get to know him/her first before do so.

Post commenting, email conservation, twitter and Facebook are someways can try to know the blog owners. Build real relationship, make friends, not trying to get something from others. I believe real relationship is much more important than just posting a guest post on the site. Just my two cents.

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Riley Bennett March 13, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Ha! that’s a funny picture. This is some gold tho. It’s all about reaching out these days to people who have the same interests. I know a lot people who have no clue how to reach out in business in general… I’ve been sharing this a ton. Good looks.

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Christina March 15, 2014 at 2:09 am

This article is a very thorough guide to pitching guest posts and projects to established brands and businesses in general. I definitely see ways to improve my relationship building!

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Robert March 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Great article Sean.

I recently purchased a course on building a blog from well known and respected blogger. When it came to guest hosting, his course didn’t have a fraction of the advice you gave away here.

Looking forward to putting this into action.

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Sean March 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

Thats my mindset. When I do “how to” posts I do whatever I can to make sure it’s as legitimately useful as possible. All it does is make the stuff I do charge for look that much better, while also providing insane value to the people who arent interested in paying. It’s a win win.

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Mallie Rydzik March 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

Well, I just started following you on Twitter today, but it was *before* I read this post…so I’m not just following for the future guest post. ;) I’m trying to be less of a lurker.

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Vishal May 16, 2014 at 3:08 am

Damn!!!!

Sean, what an article brother! You just nailed it. I was just giving some references to my SEO guy on how to contact webmasters for guest posts and all, suddenly i found your article and I have gone through this article for 17 minutes of my life and guess what? I am happy and gained knowledge about the whole process, keep it up!

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Omari O'Neal June 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Ironically your blog led to me exploring the idea of guest posting, only to be led back to this post.

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